[Edit: Am being told this photo has not been altered in any way]
Feb 17, 2020
Feb 14, 2020
Tim McGraw suffered a medical scare this week that has him currently recovering at Centennial Hospital in Nashville. The country star was transported by ambulance to the facility Tuesday morning, complaining of dizziness, a distended abdomen, headache, and lethargy.
After a thorough examination, doctors determined that McGraw was suffering from a heretofore unknown condition called “carb shock.” Dr. Herbert O’Neill explained: “When a digestive system that has not been in contact with carbohydrates in a great deal of time is exposed to them, you get what Tim experienced - shortness of breath, pain, puffiness, and more. Mr. McGraw nearly lapsed into a coma but we were able to stabilize him with a protein drip.”
McGraw’s wife, country singer Faith Hill, believes the consumption of the carb was an accident. “I’m not certain, but I think a single piece of one of the kids’ Cap'n Crunch somehow fell from their bowl into Tim’s kale and meatless crumbles omelette,” said a shaken Hill. “He took a bite and immediately looked up at me with a wild, terrified look in his eyes.”
The “Live Like You Were Dying” singer, long known for his strict fitness regime and healthful eating habits, began exhibiting symptoms of carb shock within minutes. EMTs performed a stomach pump at the scene, but the carb had already done its damage.
“Thankfully we got him in here quickly enough to avoid any lasting damage to his health or his ridiculously ripped physique.” Said O’Neill. Doctors expect a full recovery and release by this weekend but caution McGraw not to even so much as glance at a biscuit.
Jan 31, 2020
By Bobby Peacock a.k.a. TenPoundHammer
With its cheesy "dog" metaphors beaten into oblivion (including "throw me a bone" twice) and its off-key shouted vocals, this one is just painful to listen to. Orville Reddenbacher has made product less corny than this. (Fun fact: One of the writers of this song has no other entries on BMI.)
"Black Velvet" by Robin Lee
I actually liked this song until I heard the original by Alannah Myles. Then I realized that Robin Lee's version is just a cheap karaoke knockoff with none of Myles' smoldering passion. Why didn't Atlantic Records just release Myles' version to country radio instead of this version that's watered down to the point of losing all its flavor?
"Breathe" by Faith Hill
Overwrought, overplayed pop sludge without any flavor, country or pop. I was never the biggest Faith Hill fan, but this is the point where she pretty much lost me for good. Literally the only good thing to come of this was my favorite Cledus T. Judd parody, the absolutely hilarious "Breath."
"Butterfly Kisses" by Bob Carlisle
Another bombastic, strident CCM entry with an overly saccharine set of father-daughter lyrics. What makes this even worse is that, while Carlisle's version is utterly unlistenable, the Raybon brothers somehow managed to salvage it by the strength of Marty Raybon's voice alone. Can you believe this is the same guy who wrote "Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That?"
"Daddy's Little Girl" by Kippi Brannon
Not bombastic, not strident, not CCM, but still overly saccharine father-daughter lyrics. This song has one of the most disjointed meter and rhyme schemes imaginable. Even its timeline is off -- it jumps from little girl to wedding, then back to teenager. At least Kippi had a good voice, but she just never really managed to match it with anything worthwhile.
"Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard" by Alabama
Overly repetitive melody that goes nowhere. Verses that are too damn long. Excessive name-dropping at the expense of a story. The whole album proved that Alabama can't pull off any soulfulness whatsoever (okay, "Sad Lookin' Moon" was good). If you want this song done right, just listen to "Tar Top."
I took "American Boy" by Eddie Rabbitt off this list because I felt it was sincere enough. This, on the other hand, is just a clueless right-wing anthem shouting at Saddam without knowing what he's talking about ("take your poison gas, stick it in your sassafras"?!). I feel that this laid the ground work for all the MURICA songs that came out after 9/11. It's basically the "Iraq and Roll" of the 1990s, except easier to find.
"Don't Laugh at Me" by Mark Wills
One of the frontrunners in the late 90s-early noughties "Chicken Soup for the Soul" movement. Saccharine and manipulative as all get out, this song did nothing but infuriate me even then with how over-the-top it was. And I was "a little boy with glasses / the one they call the geek" at the time it was released.
"Easy as 1, 2, 3" by The Spurs
Never heard of this one, huh? Well, it got to Top 20 in Canada. Literally the only place you can listen to it is the lead singer's Soundcloud ( https://soundcloud.com/user-897794179 ). Cheap bar-band sound, clashy and off-key lead vocals, dopey lyrics, and a husband-and-wife duo that nobody remembers. I get why CanCon laws exist, but man did they turn up some stinkers now and then.
"Forever Love" by Reba McEntire
Reba tries to get her Celine Dion on and misses big time. That's really all I can say, because every time I listen to this song, I forget it again about 10 seconds later.
"Holes in the Floor of Heaven" by Steve Wariner
Another song with a saccharine metaphor that's easy to, forgive the pun, poke holes in. If there are holes in the floor of Heaven, does that mean the angels will be constantly falling through the holes and crash-landing back on Earth? Why do the writers of these kinds of songs never think their metaphors through?
"How Do I Live" by LeAnn Rimes or Trisha Yearwood
Just like any other Diane Warren song, this is just cliché after cliché. How do I live, how do I breathe, I can't go on without you, blah blah blah, I've heard this exact song 600 times before. Unlike "Butterfly Kisses" above, I feel that neither singer is able to rescue the material in any way and both versions just come across as flat and dull.
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Mark Chesnutt
The one exception to the Diane Warren rule is "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith, because come on, it's freaking Aerosmith. But giving a hard-rock song to a honky-tonker like Mark Chesnutt is one of the most mismatched cover songs this side of the Oak Ridge Boys doing "Seven Nation Army." Chesnutt sounds uncomfortable and heavily Auto-Tuned, and just plain doesn't work. And to his credit, he admits this was a mistake.
My 2000s list has a lot of Martina-bashing, I know. This one I hate for the opposite reasons: her twee, childish lisp (supposedly based off how the demo singer sang it) is unbearably cutesy, and actually makes me wish this song had been a belt-fest for a change. Also, if your hook is just "baby, I love you", you might wanna try just a little harder.
"I Will Stand by You" by Corbin/Hanner
Corbin/Hanner's "Work Song" is one of my favorite lost treasures of the 90s. But this is just a syrupy and uninspired pop love ballad that sounds like a very, very poor-man's Bryan Adams. I guess I should have expected some cheese from one of the guys who wrote "Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good", but man was this ever a letdown after something so enjoyable as "Work Song."
"It's Your Love" by Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill
Yet another cheesy, boring, cliché love ballad the likes of which propagated in this era. As the song that celebrated their marriage, I never understood why it was just a backing vocal and not a full-fledged duet. That at least might have given it some dynamic, but instead it just feels dull, with no spark whatsoever in the lyrics or performance.
"Kiss the Girl" by Little Texas
I like The Little Mermaid. I like the songs from The Little Mermaid. I even like Little Texas. But doing such a lifeless and dull take on such a colorful and catchy song? No thanks. I suppose it could have been worse: they could have tried to mimic Sebastian the crab's accent...
"Love Can Build a Bridge" by The Judds
That cheesy, overwrought metaphor (walk all the way across the desert to give someone a crumb of bread) sets the bombastic and hyperbolic overtones for the rest of the song. (Also, how do you "whisper love so loudly"? After a certain volume level, it's not whispering anymore.) Didn't we leave this kind of overly cheery feelgood cheese back in the 70s?
"Mama's Little Baby Loves Me" by Sawyer Brown
Sawyer Brown at their most insipid. Take the obvious mama's little baby/daddy's little girl tropes and do nothing with them except establish that mama's little baby loves you. (Also, danger/saving is not a rhyme.) I gotta give credit where credit is due: I thank god that Mac McAnally discovered these guys and salvaged them.
Damn it, Bob Carlisle, I didn't want you to be on here twice. But yeah, he came up with this doofy joke of a song full of good ol' boy tropes. Daddy works the farm, Mama works the Dairy Queen, the narrator wears a Stetson and kissed Mary Lou Macadoo behind the barn. Oh, and let's not forget that pitiful hook, "I'm a redneck son of a redneck son." Just another one of the dregs of the "hat act" era.
"Romeo" by Dolly Parton and Friends
Not one, but four women slobbering hornily over Billy Ray Cyrus. How did Kathy Mattea, Pam Tillis, and Mary Chapin Carpenter -- three women who rarely if ever went for the cheese factor -- get roped into this? It's actually quite hilarious in how God-awful it is.
"Somebody Slap Me" by John Anderson
A runner-up to Miss Oklahoma who likes chili and does her own plumbing, huh? Could you get any more cartoonishly corny? This was the last single written by the legendary Bob McDill, and the last top-40 hit for John Anderson to date. What a way for both to go out.
Ray Stevens is one of my childhood favorites. But this is just flat-out offensive: it uses the Oriental riff, women singing "ah so", and the "Japanese mix up L's and R's" pronunciation to drive home an over-the-top message about the influx of Japanese content in the US in the early 90s. It all seems too straightforward to be satirical, and judging from his political material in the 21st century, I fear there may actually be a racist old man under the comedic exterior.
Jan 21, 2020
I don’t know what to say about this one. Mostly because I didn’t listen to it. The day I listen to a Tom McGraw song is the day I neuter myself with a spork. He’s pretty much Luke Bryan’s dad. Their’s no difference between them accept one of them is tan and skinny and the other one wears leggings. Or so I’ve heard - I never heard one note of a Luke Bryan song either.
Tom McGraw did a rap song with Nelly one time so you know he’s a wannabe loser. Country plus rap equals crap, in case you forgot. He also did a song about wearing buffalo underwear. What the f*** man? I don’t want to think about some dude in his underpants. The only good thing Tom McGraw ever did in his life is Faith Hill.
Now, this song. I read the lyrics and it’s pretty much just a geography lesson. He just says a state and then some crap that state is known for. Your and idiot if you learn anything from this song because its just stuff every body already knows. Impress me if your gonna list southern shit. Talk about Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert and talk about Bucksnort, TN and talk about fried chicken gizzards. Nobody wants to here the four thousandth song with Big-D (I bet Tom likes [removed by editor]) and Ole Miss and grandma.
Tom McGraw and his buddy Chesney are the god fathers of bro-country and this song just proves it. Just naming a bunch of country shit and having hip-hop beats. If this is a country song, Jeffrey Epstein killed himself.
And don’t get me started on the chorus. Get this its just “way down.” That’s it but he sings it over and over until you want to drive to Tom’s house and slap him so hard that stupid shiny hat flies into his foyer. Their’s a rapper in this song to. It’s like McGraw thought to himself “what can I do to piss off Carl Outlaw so much he has to go back on blood pressure meds?” Well, good job Tom.
In closing, I’ll just say kiss every square inch of my ass, Tom McGraw, and you owe me 39 dollars for the Cardizem.
Jan 16, 2020
*foul language warning*
When "Take Me Back to Tulsa" comes on
If he's a Kane Brown fan, the answer is no
When somebody asks if I've heard Tyler Childers' music
Insert your own problematic joke about some male pop-country singer being a chick:
When you find out your friend owns the first three Rascal Flatts albums
♫ ♬ Tell St Peter at the Golden Gate
That you hate to make him wait
But you just gotta have another cigarette ♫ ♬
I was told this country radio station would be playing "Only the best country"
If you play that new Tim McGraw song around me
I know he didn't write these, but he picked all of the songs to record,
so there must be an issue with his discernment.
They all gather 'round my teepee
Late at night tryin' to catch a peek at me
In nothin' but my buffalo briefs
I got 'em standin' in line
Farmer Johnson's daughters just pulled up in a Jeep
Man he knows how to grow 'em if ya know what I mean
"Down on the Farm"
Flipped the switch on my dumaflache
Played my piano like Liberace
"You Turn Me On"
She sits quietly there
Like water in a jar
"She's My Kind of Rain"
Back when a hoe was a hoe
Coke was a coke
And crack's what you were doing
When you were cracking jokes
Back when a screw was a screw
The wind was all that blew
And when you said I'm down with that
Well it meant you had the flu
I hope you both choke on a pickle
Man that would tickle me to death
"Do You Want Fries With That?"
Everybody say "Ha Ha Ha, Ha Ha Ha"
My friends are always giving me
Watches, hats, and wine
"Last Dollar (Fly Away)"
I spent fifteen hundred dollars on your damn dog's collar
Put new spinners on your Escalade
"It's a Business Doing Pleasure With You"
She ordered us a drink
It was a purple kind of pink
She said it’s got a shot of a little bit of everything
Mellow yellow umbrella for a fella like me
"Felt Good on My Lips"
Chillin' in the back room
Hangin' with my whole crew
Sippin' on a cold brew, hey now!
Wanna get it jacked up yeah
Let's crank it on up yeah
I'm in a mexicoma
My my my my my my mexicoma
That girl, she's a party all-nighter,
A little "Funky Cold Medina," little "Strawberry Wine"-er,
That girl, she's a love gunslinger, neon jägerbomb country-okie singer
"Lookin' For That Girl"
That girl she's a sugar sweet drive-by
Hold my dreams in her blue jeans, oh my
"Lookin' For That Girl"
I'm talkin' way outside with the crickets and the dogs and the ye'haws, and the grandmas
Come on, y'all know what I'm talking about
Put your mouth to the spout where the gospel comes out
Way down, way down, way down, way down, way down, way down, way down
Jan 14, 2020
Dec 17, 2019
Thanks to Bobby for this looong, but interesting post. I agree with about 95% of it. ~Trailer
The Worst of 2010-2019
By Bobby Peacock a.k.a. TenPoundHammer
"'90s Country" by Walker Hayes
A genre throwback that sounds absolutely nothing like the genre it's throwing back to. Just when I gave Walker some slack for the genuinely moving story of "Craig,” he fired back with this pandering mess. With his electronic beats, male-fantasy lyrics, superficial name-drops, pop hooks, and incessant talk-singing to cover up his inability to actually sing, Walker just comes off like the Save-a-Lot store brand version of Sam Hunt.
"10,000 Hours" by Dan + Shay featuring Justin Bieber
What has two heads, no balls, no spine, and won't shut up about their wives? Dan + Shay. Add the eternal punchline that is Bieber for extra suck. It's snap beats, wispy auto-tuned vocals, and single-minded, simplistic sweet nothings treated as if they are the most epically romantic sentiments ever. 10,000 hours isn't even that long -- just about a year and two months. Maybe doubling down on the hyperbole and saying "10,000 years" would give at least some flavor to their romanticism. But as it stands, D + S just seem like wimps.
"Accidental Racist" by Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J
Is the Confederate flag a symbol of racism, or merely of Southern pride? I don't know the answer for sure, but I do know that it was not even a new controversy at the time this song came out -- so Paisley's ignorance is jarring here. (All the more so when he handled race much more tactfully in "Welcome to the Future". Hell, even "Camouflage," doofy as that song is, suggests the title pattern as a less controversial alternative.) Oblivious to the flag's controversy, to American history, to both black and white culture alike, this song has been discussed ad nauseam, so I'll just give you the tl;dr: it's slow, tuneless, ignorant, and infuriating.
"Automatic" by Miranda Lambert
One of my biggest pet peeves is complaining about how the "old way" is always the better way, especially by an artist too young to know about the "old way" (something I call "A Different World" Syndrome). Exactly how are pen-pals, using road atlases instead of GPS, and recording songs off radio with a cassette "better?" This song doesn't even try to advance its point and just insists that they're better because they fit into some Norman Rockwell-esque idealized nostalgia for the "good ole days" that comes across as authentic as Country Time artificially lemonade-flavored powdered drink mix. Half the time, the song doesn't even stay on topic (why is the first line about payphones when the rest of the verse has nothing to do with that?). And the lyrics about putting men first in relationships and pretending that divorce doesn't exist utterly fly in the face of the rest of Miranda's discography.
"Back Porch Bottle Service" by AJ McLean
Another thing we can blame on Florida Georgia Line: introducing the Backstreet Boys to country music. And indeed, "Back Porch Bottle Service" sounds like someone whose only exposure to country was through FGL: watered-down rap beats, Auto-Tune, knucke-dragging lyrics about alcohol and hot girls in cutoffs -- wait, why am I saying this? I thought we were done with bro-country by now. This is clearly just a has-been trying to cash in on a trend that's already passé and only embarrassing himself in the process.
"Becky" by Haley Georgia
Oh my God, Becky, look at this suck. The blog One Country called this the "worst country music song ever" and they're not far off. Shout-out to "Baby Got Back"? Check. Drunken Dobro riff that abruptly drops into weak dubstep riffs that sound like they were played on a stroopwafel? Check. Affected, slurred twang that sounds like Kesha trying to hold back vomit? Check. A female artist willingly submitting to the meatheaded fantasies of a horny 20something bro? Check. Even Haley herself should be glad this wasn't a hit.
"Body Like a Back Road" by Sam Hunt
Sam Hunt does at least have some compositional skill as evidenced by this song's maddening catchiness (although notice that I didn't say it was country compositional skill), but his lyrics are absurd beyond just the sexist fluff. As Todd in the Shadows pointed out, back roads are known for considerably more prominent traits than being curvy. If I can deconstruct your simile that quickly and easily, you might want to pick a better one. But it's not like the IQ-challenged teenage fangirls care, right? The song could've been called "Body Like an Empty Bag of Doritos" and it would've been just as popular.
"Bottoms Up" by Brantley Gilbert
Don't hate me for this, Trailer, but I actually like a couple of Brantley's songs. His ballads, such as "More Than Miles," often manage to use his grit in a way that really connects. But his party songs, especially this one, always seem so dour and downbeat. The audio is a muddy mishmash of electric guitars, his voice is a nearly indecipherable mumbly snarl, and the melody is a sluggish minor-key slog. It's just so ugly and un-fun that it makes the worst dregs of early-2000s butt-rock sound like "Uptown Funk". Even if you like the party songs, I don't see how this one has any appeal just because of how ugly it is. And why he keeps returning to such material when his heart clearly isn't in it ("Fire't Up") is beyond me.
"The Boys of Fall" by Kenny Chesney
No lie, I actually managed to forget this song entirely less than a year after it came out. I could not remember a single note or word from it. Maybe that's just a "not for me" thing -- I'm not even remotely a fan of any sports, especially not college football -- but I am a human jukebox. I can remember lyrics to songs I haven't heard since I was 4. And if I can manage to so thoroughly forget a freaking song, then clearly something is wrong. (Also, Casey Beathard cannot write melodies to save his life. Just putting that out there.)
"Corn Star" by Craig Morgan
After about 2007, I got this feeling that Craig Morgan was outright trolling his fanbase. Nearly all of his songs had this overwrought scream-singing that over-exaggerated his twang to the point of parody, and some of the dopiest lyrics imaginable. And probably the dopiest is "Corn Star," about that hot farmer girl that all the boys drool over because they think she used to be a stripper or on Baywatch. But no, she's just a hot farmer girl. Maybe it doesn't sound like the worst thing ever on paper, but the borderline-pervy lyrics (Jeffrey Steele, you should be ashamed) and Craig's unbearable delivery just send this one right over the top.
"Dibs" by Kelsea Ballerini
Or should I say "Deeeeeeyubs," as she squawks in an overbearing twang that makes Aaron Tippin sound like an NPR host. Kelsea Barbiedollerini's overly plastic, boy-crazy style reminds me way too much of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe", down to her being way too goddamn old for the subject matter (and all the more puzzling in that Kelsea's two best songs -- "Peter Pan" and "I Hate Love Songs" -- go out of their way to subvert the boy-craziness). Maybe it's not as offensive as some of the other songs on this list that feature females endorsing the negative stereotypes of bro-country, but the song still seems no less vapid in that it gives zero context to the boy she's lusting after. As a result, she comes across like "I want you before anyone else can get to you, simply because you have a penis."
"Doin' Country Right" by David Fanning
In the four years that Country Weekly issued letter grades in their reviews section (2012-16), this was the first of only four songs to get a "D" from them. I guess even they were getting tired of how samey bro-country was getting even in 2015. Whatever your average bro-country song does wrong, this one does even worse: flat, impersonal, off-key delivery; repetitive lyrics ("Get your blue jeans on on on on on"); awkward melody (verses that emphasize the wrong words, way-too-slow chorus); and not even the slightest hint of inspiration in the lyrics. Turn it off off off off off.
"Donkey" by Jerrod Niemann
I'll admit it: I liked "Drink to That All Night." But I get it: 2013 was a dark time for country music. And how much darker can you get than "Donkey?" Actual donkey braying, vocal filters, dumb forced rhymes, and face-palming single-entendres about ass. And is it just me, or is the line "They all walk funny when they're done, riding you know who" actually about sodomy? Even Jerrod's out-there stuff was usually clever and interesting, but this was just stupid and gross. And this song's overwhelming negative reception singlehandedly (singlehoofedly?) killed his career, as he hasn't had a hit since.
"Female" by Keith Urban
With bro-country having all but turned Nashville into utter vagina repellent, the time was right for a pro-female country song. This, however, was not the one: it's just a couple of cheesy either-or questions buried under a laundry list of vague inspirational phrases, almost none of which are female-specific (what do "holy water," "fortune teller," "technicolor river wild," etc. have to do with the central theme?) and reek of mansplaining. While all three singles off Graffiti U were almost equally bad, I think this one gets the extra point simply by getting the worst results out of decent intentions.
"Friend Zone" by Danielle Bradbery
I mentioned earlier that Country Weekly only ever gave out four "D" ratings in its review section. They also managed exactly one "D-". That grade went to this very song. Where do I even begin? Is it the haphazard use of sports analogies that can't even stick to one sport and have nothing to do with "friend zone" whatsoever? The line about how you have to spend money to get into a woman's heart? The limp "Bass and the beat and my banjo" breakdown that has nothing to do with either? The delivery and production that sound like a 14-year-old trying to cover Iggy Azalea on karaoke night? Whatever it is, it's a Human Centipede of all the worst elements of 21st century female country-pop.
"God Made Girls" by RaeLynn
This song is absolutely hilarious. RaeLynn seems to have this oblivious, doe-eyed. childish view of life that makes it seem like she was transported from the most conservative 1950s sitcom. Combine that with her chipmunk voice, the sterile production, and the fact that FOUR WOMEN WROTE THIS SONG, and I am utterly confused that this appealed to anyone. This song may have been almost as damaging to the perception of women in country music as the entire bro-country movement was, given that it was a female singing that yes, she just wants to be the silent little plaything for her man.
"Good Girl" by Dustin Lynch
The signs were showing as early as "She Cranks My Tractor," weren't they? Dustin Lynch used the genuinely exceptional "Cowboys and Angels" to Trojan horse us with a bland mush of Aldean-meets-Sam Hunt R&B-rock-country that has none of the flavor or personality. Lynch is a capable singer, so his decision to drown himself in Auto-Tune is beyond me. The snap beats (hi, Grady Smith!) are in full force. And the hook -- "I got it good, girl, 'cause I got myself a good girl" -- yes, the next rhyme is "world") sounds like it was written by me in the fifth grade. Maybe not the worst of all time, but there is absolutely nothing "good" about it.
"Hotdamalama" by Parmalee
Parmalee are yet another example of a fine country tradition: a bottom-tier band that never even remotely manages to sound like a band at any point, and therefore sounds completely different on every single they release (a little something I call Ricochet Syndrome). I thought all of Parmalee's previous singles were passable to good, but this one completely negated every semblance of competence. Already swimming in a sea of stupid made-up slang ("delta donk," "Can I get a woo woo," and of course "Hotdamalama" -- not to mention quite possibly the first ever use of hashtag-rap in a country song!), it reeks of the bro-country leftovers that have been sitting in the fridge since Chase Rice's first album.
"Humble and Kind" by Tim McGraw
Easily my most controversial pick on here. Lots of people love this song. I utterly, thoroughly, absolutely do not. I can't stand songs that just list a bunch of vague platitudes without a narrative (something I call "I Hope You Dance" Syndrome), and most of these don't even stay on-topic. What the hell do root beer popsicles, keys hidden under doormats, and using windows instead of AC have to do with being "humble and kind?" What kind of nonsense disjointed phrase is "bitterness keeps you from flying?" This is the kind of song whose lyrics get posted alongside a GIF of the Minions on some middle aged housewife's Facebook feed.
"I Believe" by George Strait
I kind of hate to criticize a song that was inspired by real-life events. The Sandy Hook school shooting was one of many tragic events this decade that left an impact on many people. It's certainly an event worth writing a song about. But this song barely has anything to do with it, other than a couple offhanded mentions of "26 reasons." The rest is just a bunch of vague sad lyrics about "hearts that'll never be the same" and "shattered lives" that could be about anything, tied together with a vague message of belief. Maybe someone could get a mesage of hope and comfort out of it, but I just felt like it was a big cliché-fest. I also felt it was uncharacteristic coattail-riding for a guy whose music seemed never before to follow sociopolitical trends of any kind.
"I'm Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride
After about the 10,000th Martina McBride song about someone in an unfavorable situation, I just kinda get numb to it. I once said that most Martina McBride songs feel like a Lifetime Movie of the Week where everyone is screaming their dialogue. Same melodrama about real-life situations exaggerated nearly to the point of parody; same bombastic pop production; same ear-splitting vocal histrionics; same Martina song that makes me switch to Liquid Metal faster than you can say "Concrete Angel."
"Lookin' for That Girl" by Tim McGraw
The only time that a 40-something-year-old man should be singing about "lookin' for that girl" is if his granddaughter has gotten lost in the mall. Otherwise it just sounds like creepy Uncle Timmy is looking for something a little more specific and unsavory. And that's before we even get to the dopey Florida Georgia Line-level meatheaded lyrics and canned, Auto-Tuned production, both of which seem like Tim was trying to cash in on a trend when he'd already proven time and time again that he didn't need to. At least Big Machine had the decency to pull this garbage in favor of the stunning "Meanwhile Back at Mama's".
"Lose It" by Kane Brown
I once remarked that Kane Brown sounds like a shart. Surprisingly he doesn't on this song -- he just sounds like any of the 847 other R&B/bro-country/pop/rap amalgamations that Nashville has spat out in the past few years on this song. You know, your Jordan Devin Dylan Dustin Brett Stells of the world. Maybe it's not the most objectifying of this kind of song. Maybe it's not even the dumbest or objectively worst or whatever. But at the very least, it's one of the least interesting. It's kind of hard to even write about, simply because there's just so little to work with so I'll just say that Kane Brown sucks.
"Mmm, Mmm, Mmm" by Dylan Scott
Speaking of the 847 other R&B/bro-country/pop/rap amalgamations, meet the nothingburger that is Dylan Scott. I could've picked "My Girl" or "Hooked," but those were pleasant enough background noise. This one has an obnoxiously over-the-top "silly" tone to it that feels forced, a hook that's impossible to say, and a laundry list of hot-girl tropes that somehow don't even objectify -- unless maybe having sex in a duck blind is your thing.
"Ready Set Roll" by Chase Rice
Get your little fine ass on the step, bitch. Or else get your little fine ass back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich. Maybe I'm reading too much into that one line alone, but the way he just snarls it out always rubbed me the wrong way. Combine that with all the times I saw him call people "retarded" for not liking the song, and I just feel like he's an aggressive, ill-tempered, misogynistic jerk who's gonna slap that girl senseless if she doesn't shimmy up inside. (Oh, and the weaksauce hip-hop beat and dopey robot voice bookending the song didn't help matters either.) At least he seems to have mellowed out since then.
"Red, White, and You" by Steven Tyler
I like Aerosmith. Who doesn't? I even liked Steven Tyler's first attempt at a country song, "Love Is Your Name," because it at least sounded country. This, however, is a knuckle-dragging, womanizing mess straight out of the Florida Georgia Line playbook, with a dash of cartoonish jingoism that even Toby Keith would laugh at. I don't think country radio has seen an older act strain so hard for youth cred since Alabama released "When It All Goes South". But at least that song didn't have a cringey single-entendre like "Free fallin' into your yum yum."
"Ridiculous" by Haley Georgia
See everything I said in the "Becky" review, double down on both the "drunk teenage girl trying to sing Kesha" vocals (now with extra Auto-Tune!) and the pop-rap production, and replace the "Baby Got Back" shout-out with an incredibly stupid hook of "You're ridic, you're ridic, you're ridiculous." Get it? Because it sounds like she's saying "You're a dick!" And boy does she beat you over the head with it. The rest of the song does set up a reasonable if uninteresting infidelity scenario, but any goodwill is completely blown away by the stupid title and blatantly un-country surroundings.
"Said No One Ever" by Jana Kramer
One of the other songs out of only four that ever got a "D" from Country Weekly. (The other two, by the way, were "Bad for You" by Waterloo Revival and "High Class" by Eric Paslay.) Alternating between a laundry list of obvious non-jokes (everyone knows who the Rolling Stones are, hates Mondays, "reality" TV is fake, blah blah blah) and anti-love requests ("I, I don't need your love and affection... said no one ever"), it's an unfocused mess done in an overbearing faux-twang (You're from Michigan just like me, Jana. Sound like it.) And I hope to God "bring back the payphone" wasn't Natalie Hemby trying to write in a callback to "Automatic." This is Jana Kramer's best song, said no one ever.
"See You Again" by Carrie Underwood
I remember reading a "story behind the song" in Country Weekly about this song, and the article was less than half the average length -- they had to pad it out with not one, but two sidebars just to fill the page. That just goes to show you how little thought and effort was put into the most generic anthem ever to the loss of an unspecified love one. I'm sad, but I'm also not sad because I know I'll see you again. How many other songs have played that exact same card? How many of them have had even the tiniest semblance of the emotions that this one so utterly lacks? I could tell even before I read the non-story behind the song that it was written for a movie soundtrack but didn't make the cut.
"Something 'bout You" by Sir Rosevelt
I'm in the minority that actually liked "Beautiful Drug," and I thought Zac's collab with Avicii on "Broken Arrows" was good too. At least those songs had energy and passion to them. This song's first lyric is "you ain't even trying," which is a good summary of the song itself -- a lifeless beat, uninspired lyrics about that unexplainable hot girl who's given no qualities whatsoever, an utterly phoned-in vocal, and no concessions to the electronic sound other than a few token snap beats. This could easily be recorded by Kane Brown without changing a note, and it just makes the whole rigamarole about a new-sounding side project seem more like trend chasing instead of actually wanting to extend creatively. Or just toe the line between "midlife crisis" and outright trolling your fans; that works too.
"Speechless" by Dan + Shay
Another song that just infuriated me on first listen. I don't hear a romantic night on the town with this song at all. Instead I hear a horny teenager slobbering over his prom date, stuttering out half-formed attempts at compliments in hopes of getting laid. And for some reason, this song has a "wedding mix" despite the lyrics having fuck-all to do with a wedding, because Dan + Shay are utterly unable to complete a sentence without gushing about their wives. I once got accused of toxic masculinity for hating this song, but I think it'd be better to call this song what it is: toxic emasculation.
"Take a Knee, My Ass (I Won't Take a Knee)" by Neal McCoy
I don't want a knee in my ass anyway. I don't want a boot in anyone's ass, either. I have no issue with football players who take a knee as a means of nonviolent protest. Nor do I have an issue with people who see that as a sign of disrespect. But whatever side of any issue you're on, there is little I hate more than people who get defensive and start attacking the other side. By punctuating his patriotic paean with "...my ass", not only does he make for some very confusing and anatomically impossible mental imagery, he also comes across as a bitter, cranky jingoist whose cartoonish patriotism makes me want to listen to "America, Fuck Yeah" instead.
"That's My Kind of Night" by Luke Bryan
Another dopey song almost more known for its controversy -- Zac Brown calling it the worst song he's ever heard, and then all of Luke's fellow bros rushing to his defense, combined with the label hastily pulling it for the much better "Drink a Beer" -- than its content. But why would you know it for its content? Other than an admittedly interesting melody, it's nothing but another list of country-boy party clichés, with some absolutely head-scratching name-drops (who the hell was still listening to T-Pain in 2013?!) for extra dopiness. Even at the time, nearly every review I found of the song was highly negative, and it's hard not to see why. This was one of the defining songs of the bro-country movement by being one of its worst.
"There Is a God" by Lee Ann Womack
One of my most controversial opinions is that I absolutely cannot stand "I Hope You Dance", for many of the same reasons I mentioned above in "Humble and Kind" -- I hate songs that just list off vague feelgood platitudes. At least unlike "I Hope You Dance," this one isn't a pop ballad that fits Lee Ann's twang about as well as Alan Jackson trying to cover Lil Wayne. But it's hard not to poke holes in the lyrics anyway. For instance, "hear the doctor say he can't explain it but the cancer is gone." If the person died of cancer anyway, would that be proof that there isn't a God? But what really set me off at this song was the dig against science ("Science says it's all just circumstance... but if you want to shoot that theory down, look around") that utterly dismisses centuries of research with a vague handwave. Because it's impossible to believe in both God and science, right?
"This Is How We Roll" by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan
By this point in the list, I feel like I'm just repeating myself. It's a bro-country jam. The lyrics are just a laundry list. The beat is oppressively un-country. But then everything gets worse when Tyler Hubbard, who has barely ever even managed to prove competency in singing without Auto-Tune, tries to rap and comes off sounding like an early-1990s TV commercial for a kids' product. That's the point when this song goes from merely another cornerstone of a thankfully bygone subgenre to outright painful. And that's even before you find your way to the remix with JaaaaAaaaAAAson DeruuuUuuUuuLooooo. (Sorry, I always have to say his name that way.)
"Tippin' Point" by Dallas Smith
So oppressively bro that I can't even be bothered to write a proper review. And at this point in the list I don't even care anymore. Blah blah Daisy Dukes, tailgate, lips, "hottie," moon... you can tell Florida Georgia Line wrote this, can't you? It even has the same producer. Only somehow Dallas Smith's feeble nasal whine manages to sound even worse than Tyler or Brian. And somehow this was one of the genre's biggest hits in Canada. And somehow I heard this garbage on WATZ a lot. And somehow I'm still talking about it. Let's just forget it existed.
"Wanted" by Hunter Hayes
I really want to like Hunter Hayes, because I am genuinely impressed by his Cajun background, his prolificacy on multiple instruments, and the fact that he's been doing this since he was 4. He also seems incredibly likeable and intelligent in interviews. But other than "Storm Warning" and one or two other songs, he's just not cutting it for me. And least of all on this song -- boring monotone melody I could've written when I was 4, combined with vague teenybopper lovey-dovey lyrics that I doubt even the swooning tweenage fanbase managed to remember after the first listen (the most romantic thing he can come up with is hand-holding?). I think he's struggled to make a solid followup because he's still chruning out the same bland tween-pop mush instead of, you know, making actually good music. If you really want to wow me, Hunter, use that Cajun heritage and go cut a duet with Eddy Raven or something.